Jewish World Review Oct. 20, 1999 /1 10 Mar-Cheshvan, 5760
BECAUSE AMERICA is a sacrocanophiliac nation, Al Gore has declared himself the "underdog" in the race for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party. This is borderline buffoonery. Gore is about 15 percentage points ahead of Bill Bradley in national polling; he is still the vice president of the United States; he is chockful of endorsements; he is still, putatively, the second most powerful man in the world.
Q. What makes you an underdog against Bill Bradley? He's not exactly Cicero.
His arms are waving, Nixon-like, almost out-of-synch, a clenched fist, open palms, pointed finger. "We're not going to sweep it under the rug" (hands go sweep ... ) "We have global problems" (hands round, shape of globe ... ) "I believe in the Iowa caucuses" (finger pointing to "I," him). Gore was born and raised in Washington, D.C. He spent his summers on a Tennessee farm. Has he had an other-life experience on the Lower East Side of New York?
Acting as underdoggies do, Gore begins by challenging Bradley, who is in the room, to WEEKLY debates between now and the Iowa caucuses in January, about 15 of them. "How about it Bill? If the answer is yes, stand up and wave your hand (wave)." Bradley doesn't do waving, doesn't do weekly debates. He is the overdog.
Earthily, anti-prissy, Gore says "I guarandamnteeit" that as president he will veto any anti-labor legislation. At the close, he leads a chant from his supporters, "Stay and Fight," and his supporters chant and wave placards reading "Stay and Fight." They surely will; the vice president has previously announced that if the Republicans win the White House "Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson will have veto power over the Supreme Court."
Gore's speech was not unsuccessful. He looks like a smart and able man who has been told by his handlers not to look like he's being handled by handlers. But there is weirdness, the embodiment of a man going through a mid-life crisis, on stage, seeking to be our president.
As it happens, I know what is going happen in the election campaign of 2000. Bill Bradley will run very well, likely beating Gore in some early states. When the campaign goes into the Southland, Gore will clean up as a Southerner and as a candidate who is putatively "to the right" of Bradley. A much-bruised Gore, still buttoned up in his continental suit, will be dragged across the finish line by Democratic Party elected officials. In the general election, if he opposes Gov. George W. Bush or Sen. John McCain, he really will be the underdog, and will lose, finishing sacro. I guarandamntee